Virus-hit German chemicals giant BASF eyes 2021 recovery

German chemicals giant BASF confirmed net losses in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday but said it expected to bounce back this year despite “uncertainty” over the future.

The Ludwigshafen-based group recorded a net loss of 1.06 billion euros ($1.3 billion) last year after profits of 8.4 billion in 2019, figures published Friday showed.

In a statement, the group said it expected to profit from a recovering global economy in 2021 “after the sharp downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic”.

It added that it expected to increase sales “to between 61 and 64 billion euros” and reach an operating profit of “between 4.1 billion and 5.0 billion euros” in 2021.

Yet it also warned that “uncertainty about future developments remains exceptionally high”.

BASF spent much of 2020 in the red after being hit hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, it confirmed a full-year operating loss of 191 million euros compared with a profit of 4.2 billion euros in 2019.

The pandemic has hit a swathe of industries in which BASF is a crucial part of the supply chain — from aviation to car manufacturing. 

The group slumped to an operating loss of 2.6 billion euros in the third quarter, which it blamed on writedowns and “provisions for restructuring”.

BASF said in July it would shed 2,000 jobs by the end of 2022 that would save it 200 million euros annually by 2023.

Yet an upturn in the car industry and increased sales in China contributed to a “strong performance” in the fourth quarter, the group said Friday, confirming an operating profit of 932 million euros in the final three months of 2020.